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Author Topic: Relooking at Ronald Hutton’s The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles  (Read 8383 times)

beith

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Quote from: ethelwulf;144937
Belief in fairies can be and was a religious faith! I understand that everyone who says they believe in fairies (meaning the spirits of the sidhe or similar place) is not doing so necessarily as a religion but you cannot say the reverse and say  faith in the fairies is not and was not a religious faith.

 
I didn't say faith in fairies is not and was not a religious faith.  I said that it is not required to be pagan to believe in fairies.  I said that belief in fairies by someone who says they are Christian doesn't automatically mean they are a pagan in hiding, as you originally presented.

You said "I understand that everyone who says they believe in fairies...is not doing so necessarily as a religion"

...which is exactly what I said.  Belief in fairies does not require that one is pagan or follows a particular faery religion.  Belief in fairies can be a part of pagan/faery religion, but it doesn't have to be.

And that's my point.  A Christian who believes in fairies is still a Christian.

You said the exact same thing I did, then in the same sentence told me what I said was wrong.

beith

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Quote from: ethelwulf;144946
I suggested that to continue to express a contrary belief would be unlikely considering the consequences. So the lack of literature on paganism cannot be used as proof that individuals did not continue to believe.

 
The lack of literature cannot be used as proof that individuals did continue to believe (or rather practice) pagan religion either.  Again, the null hypothesis.

beachglass

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Quote from: Chabas;144896
That assumes that all conversions were by the sword, which is hardly the case. What you're proposing is that, since I still celebrate Christmas with my family, I'm still Christian, regardless of my own identification or what meaning that celebration holds to me.

 
Hmm... so when the family colors eggs this year, does that make my pagan aunt Christian or my Christian grandma pagan? :)
"The further we go, and older we grow, the more we know, the less we show."  ~ Robert Smith

Jack

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Quote from: Darkhawk;144948
Belief in angels cast out of heaven who didn't make it to hell is clearly not a Christian belief?

Clearly. Angels are evidence of early Sumerian paganism hiding within Christianity and Hell is Norse!
 
Quote
I believe it is lunchtime.  Is that my religion now?

No, that belief is evidence of a pre-noon breakfast belief that's been secretly practiced at lunchtime.
Hail Mara, Lady of Good Things!
"The only way to cope with something deadly serious is to try to treat it a little lightly." -Madeleine L'Engle

Amphibian

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Quote from: Jack;144956
No, that belief is evidence of a pre-noon breakfast belief that's been secretly practiced at lunchtime.

I believe in Second Breakfast.

beith

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Quote from: Jack;144956
No, that belief is evidence of a pre-noon breakfast belief that's been secretly practiced at lunchtime.

 
I always thought I was a firm believer in supper, but now I understand why I had a bowl of cereal and toast at 7pm last night.  Thank you!

Allaya

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Quote from: ethelwulf;144942
So are what are you saying?  Is that the only thing you really mange to say?

 
No, yewberry was simply expressing what I suspect a lot of us are thinking.
Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.  — Shirley Chisholm
No doubt the truth can be unpleasant, but I am not sure that unpleasantness is the same as the truth.  — Roger Ebert
It is difficult to get a person to understand something when their livelihood depends upon them not understanding it. — Upton Sinclair (adapted)
People cannot be reasoned out of an opinion that they have not reasoned themselves into. — Fisher Ames (adapted)

ethelwulf

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Quote from: Allaya;144960
No, yewberry was simply expressing what I suspect a lot of us are thinking.

 
Ok I get the point. I am sorry I caused such a problem. I will bother you all no more. Thank you for allowing  me to  participate. I learned a lot and appreciate what I have gained but it is clear from this that I should not continue.
Thanks again for letting me participate.

MattyG

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Quote from: Darkhawk;144948
Belief in angels cast out of heaven who didn't make it to hell is clearly not a Christian belief?


 
I believe it is lunchtime.  Is that my religion now?

"Time is relative. Lunchtime doubly so." - Ford Prefect, THGTTG
« Last Edit: April 10, 2014, 02:16:31 pm by MattyG »

MattyG

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Quote from: ethelwulf;144920
I have never called my ancestors liars!!! WHY would you say that?

 
All the evidence points to your ancestors (and mine in fact) identifying themselves as being devout Christians for at least the last millennium. You say that they weren't really Christians, or at least not very good Christians. You are directly contradicting the way that they chose to define themselves. If that's not accusing them of lying, I don't know what is.

ethelwulf

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Quote from: MattyG;144968
All the evidence points to your ancestors (and mine in fact) identifying themselves as being devout Christians for at least the last millennium. You say that they weren't really Christians, or at least not very good Christians. You are directly contradicting the way that they chose to define themselves. If that's not accusing them of lying, I don't know what is.

 
I have never accused my ancestors of lying. I only made the point that we can not know that everyone was a devout Christian in the past. In writing kept in my family from as far back as the 1600's suggest otherwise. Ironically these old letters were kept in the old family bibles. To call some of my ancestors devout Christians from the writings they left would have been a lie so it is an insult to say what you did about me. Do not worry I will not bother anyone else again in this form but I think it is unfair to make such claims as you did. I am proud of my ancestors even if they were not all devout Christians.

MattyG

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Quote from: MattyG;144967
"Time is relative. Lunchtime doubly so." - Ford Prefect, THGTTG

 
Damnit! Got the quote wrong!

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so"

That way is an even more appropriate response! Looks like I need to reread the Guide.

SunflowerP

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Quote from: ethelwulf;144875
Here is a simple example http://www.bbc.com/news/health-25156510
There are many sources for this subject but you might not find them as a specific match between genetics and unconscious memory. The term instinct gives us a simple example to start with. Patterns of behavior are passed from generation to generation. Our conscious part of the brain then connects these genetic patterns in new ways with new effects.

 


actual study, clicks because mainstream journalism seldom reports well on science; reads abstract>

I don't think we have enough oysters yet, to try to make stew.

Sunflower
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catja6

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Quote from: ethelwulf;144923
I am not conflating any evidence. If the fairy realm is not an aspect of a form of paganism then what type of religion is it because it is an aspect of a Celtic or pre-Celtic religion.

Wow. You're just the gift that keeps on giving, aren't you?

First: you seem awfully insistent that Hutton is being "absolutist" when he says that there's no solid evidence for the ongoing survival of specifically pagan religious beliefs. People who actually know how to read humanities scholarship--i.e., the majority of the people on this forum--have informed you, REPEATEDLY, that scholars, especially when writing for other scholars, don't make hard-core absolutist dogmatic statements like that: the qualifications are ALWAYS there, because humanities=/= math (nd even math=/= math) and everyone knows it.  ESPECIALLY when we're talking about the vagaries of folk belief in eras in which most stuff most people were doing wasn't recorded in any way. So seriously, cut it out: your insistence that Hutton is absolutist is due entirely to your lack of ability to read the scholarship, not to anything he actually says. He says there isn't really any hard evidence: HE'S RIGHT. He doesn't say "omg no such thing as pagan stuff surviving how ridiculous"--which is what you seem to believe he is. He's saying that there's nothing solid to grab onto and prove anything. And again, he's right, from an historian's perspective. As I have said, repeatedly, from a folklorist's perspective I'm prepared to say that stuff did survive, because I have a more in-depth understanding of how transmission works--but as I have ALSO repeatedly said, there ain't a whole lot that you can actually DO with that assertion, because again, there's not much to grab on to.

And oh, fairies. Fairy lore is a great example of stuff that likely originated in the pre-Christian era--but by the time we get to the records of it it's been so thoroughly assimilated into Christian discursive models that it's damned difficult to really "read" it from a "pagan" perspective. Just because something is OLD doesn't mean that the forms we know it in are inherently, conceptually, intrinsically PAGAN--and that is something you, and every other pagan who wants to scream about stuff like "using greenery in religious rituals" and "lighting candles" as something Christians stoooooole from Ye Pagans of Olde needs to understand.

Because the fact is, your ideas of what "pagan" even MEANS in this context has way more to do with these post-Christian anxieties and fantasizing than with any actual documented evidence from Ye Olden Pagans themselves.

WE JUST DON'T KNOW what roles the fairies MAY have played in pre-Christian religious beliefs. Like: were they SO SUPER-IMPORTANT to the functioning of the pre-Christian religious models that they HAD to be retained in some form, otherwise the new converts wouldn't know what to do with themselves? Or, conversely, were they so IRRELEVANT that the Christian orthodoxy police didn't really give a rat's ass about what the peasants were doing with their bowls of milk as long as they continued to profess Christianity? It's worth noting that church authorities didn't start getting really het up about fairy beliefs until the early modern period's heresy hysteria, when EVERYTHING that couldn't neatly fit into orthodox belief systems became automatic evidence of non- or anti-Christianity--REGARDLESS of whatever the people actually holding beliefs about fairies thought or said. And it's the legacy of that heresy-hysteria that comes down to us: hardcore orthodox churchmen screamed about how fairy lore was OBVIOUSLY non/anti-Christian, and the folklorists of the 19th century (and the pagans who relied upon their works) said "YES, and isn't that cool?"

But: as pretty much every single folklorist who works with this stuff will tell you, "annoys churchmen" is NOT THE SAME THING as "pagan"--despite what hardcore churchmen and ill-informed pagans would have you believe. The thing about a religion like Christianity that's spread so wide and so far for so long, is that it has proven to be extremely capacious: the claims of absolute hegemony have allowed it to absorb a shitton of stuff. We all know that. But the thing you need to understand is that once that stuff has been absorbed into a new construct, IT ISN'T THE SAME STUFF ANYMORE. Lots of Victorians were very, very keen on asserting that any "old stuff" that they could identify was somehow intrinsically the same as in Ye Olde Pagan Days, but just with a new coat of Christian paint. But as a folklorist, I'm telling you that *it doesn't work like that*. You cannot change the entire discursive framework in which X exists, and then expect X to remain basically static, with only cosmetic changes: it becomes X* at best, and more likely Y, Z, F, J, or P. And when you're looking at stuff from the perspective of centuries, you've got *no way of knowing* what X looked like--all you've got is Z and P, and you won't know what to do with those if you insist on calling them X.

I'm guessing that your going on about "the fairy faith" is based on Evans-Wentz's 1911 book The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. Note the publication date. You seem to be assuming that the "faith" in the title is equivalent to what scholars a century later would call "religious faith." You're wrong. Fairy lore falls pretty much 100% into the narrative category of legends--folk stories that are basically treated as history, taking place in real time and real space. This is in contradistinction to myth (sacred narratives) and folktales (narratives told as fiction). Legends may replicate or reinforce the claims of myth (i.e., saints' legends), but are not themselves considered BY THE PEOPLE WHO TELL THEM to be on the same level of ~cosmic importance~ as myths. Belief in fairy lore, especially as it existed in the times in  which it was recorded, is NOT the same thing as some kind of coherent pagan religious belief, as opposed to Christian. That's like saying that teenagers telling narratives of local haunted houses or the story of the Hook Man are obviously pagans omg. Stories about ghosts (or mutilated murderers) are also legends, and old as dirt, but they always exist with VERY SPECIFIC FRAMEWORKS. You can't just take the bones of a given story, drop it into a completely different culture, and expect it to look the same way and mean the same thing. You just can't. And it takes a fuckload of training to be able to glean any kind of information whatsoever from the bones, and all that information is of necessity guesswork and speculation.    

All you're doing with this repeated maundering is digging yourself into a deeper hole. No decent scholar is going to tell you what you want to hear. And you're so mad that nobody will give you the exact stuff you want that you're incapable of understanding what is there, and doing anything useful with it. As long as you keep down this path, you'll never actually learn anything about this topic. All you're doing is vomiting random pieces of information, with no sense of context or meaning, and demanding that the scholars from whom you've grabbed your information paint you a pretty picture to your liking. And that's never going to happen.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2014, 06:09:42 pm by catja6 »

yewberry

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Quote from: ethelwulf;144942
So are what are you saying?  Is that the only thing you really mange to say?


At this point yeah, absolutely.  Otherwise my head might explode.

Brina

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